Gadsden, James (gădzˈdən) [key], 1788–1858, American railroad promoter and diplomat, b. Charleston, S.C.; grandson of Christopher Gadsden. He served in the War of 1812, under Andrew Jackson against the Seminole, and, later, as commissioner to remove the Seminole to their reservation in Florida. He was a promoter of railroads and advocated a Southern rail system, the purpose of which would be to control the trade of the South and the West, thereby freeing those regions from their dependency on the North. To further this end he promoted Southern commercial conventions, and at a convention in Memphis in 1845 he boldly urged the construction of a railroad to the Pacific. In 1853, when his friend Jefferson Davis was Secretary of War in Pierce's cabinet, Gadsden was appointed minister to Mexico to negotiate for territory along the border. The result was the Gadsden Purchase. He was recalled (1856) for exceeding his instructions.
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